This is my second year serving in an AmeriCorps program. Over the last two years I was able to gain several new and different perspectives on healthcare. While being emerged in a non-profit setting I learned the inner workings of a non-profit organization. I can say that my choice to serve for a second year has really challenged my ability to stay true to a commitment. During these two years, I sacrificed a great deal of luxuries, while I stand by watching my friends’ discretionary income and better living quarters. When I think about the opportunities and life skills I have obtained in these two short years, I know I am setting myself up for success through the relationships I have formed at my host sites, city sites, and within the AmeriCorps culture. It also goes to prove that money is not everything, not because I serve for practically nothing, but because I was able to stay grounded and focused on the needs of those I serve daily. While serving we live with very little financial means, many of the patients I assist live with even lower financial resources and yet, they always seem to be in better spirits about life. Their positive outlook on life gives me energy that keeps me focused on providing quality care and services for them. In a sense they are my inspiration to keep pushing.
This year I am a member with the Philadelphia Health Corps. I serve as a Social Worker Associate at Abbottsford-Falls Family Practice and Counseling (FPCN),that’s definitely a mouth full to say. A mouth full can’t express how it feels to call patients for hours on end each day. At my site I see patients that are uninsured or underinsured and determine their eligibility for state medical insurance programs such as Medical Assistance, Medical Assistance for Working Disabled (MAWD), Select Plan for Women, Prenatal, and CHIP.
The most challenging responsibility at my site is the insurance application process. You have to be very focused on the stringent requirements set by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). Documents must be filled out correctly or you’re DENIED. Documents need to be turned in, in a timely manner or you’re DENIED. You have to ensure that the Nurse Practitioner has documented the patient’s disabilities with the correct wording or you’re DENIED. Even for many patients that turn in all of their documents, and are eligible guess what YOU’RE DENIED!!! So the last one mentioned is where I focus on being the liaison between the patients and DPW. I often coach patients on the process of an appeal. But what pains me more is to see prenatal and emergency medical assistance applications denied. Many of these people are rushed to the hospital with no medical insurance, no income, and suffering from major medical problems and DPW finds some justification to deny pretty much all my applications.
Even with all the chaos I am reminded that it’s all worthwhile when a patient returns with insurance, you can definitely see the relief in their face. So far I assisted over 100 patients receive various Medicaid benefits. While that’s only 60% of the patients that I’ve been of service to, there are more patients with health coverage now at my host site, than when I started. While assisting patients with health coverage seems like a lot, my day is still not over. In addition to assisting patients with health coverage, on a daily basis I help patients file applications for SNAP (food and cash assistance), LIHEAP (energy assistance), CRISIS grants (emergency assistance), as well as helping create payment agreements with our patients who cannot afford their co-payments for clinic visits or medications from the pharmacy. Throughout the day Nurse Practitioners will call me into exam rooms to enroll patients into prescription assistance programs, many of these patients are in dire need of life sustaining medications.
There are also some pretty cool weekly programs here at Abbottsford-Falls FPCN including groups for smoking cessation, diabetic education, drug and alcohol support, and parenting. In addition we offer plenty of trainings called Miniversity sponsored by our sister organization Resources for Human Development (RHD). At the end of the day the serving can be very challenging, but with focus and dedication it is all worth the experience. I’m still pushing!!!
During my past two year in AmeriCorps I have gained invaluable experience. I have learned that I would like to become an Infectious Disease Specialist, with an emphasis on HIV infections. With my passion and education I want to open a partnership with other inspired physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, as well as behavioral health professions that holistically would provide their services to an underserved population.
-Robert Modest, Abbottsford-Falls Family Practice and Counseling